It’s come upon me slowly, this super Susie Superpower. So slowly that I didn’t even realise it was happening or, more interestingly, how it happened. It started right at the time when everything started changing, when everyone started talking in wonderment about flow without any kind of irony because suddenly something smoothed out. It was like people’s thoughts were becoming more powerful, the link between our minds and the outside world becoming more … fluid.
Andrea texted me. “How crazy is this? I was thinking yesterday about toucans. And now suddenly they’re appearing everywhere – on four separate websites, none of which have anything to do with toucans. Then I got an email from John asking me if I wanted to go to an exotic bird show. WTF? And now my neighbour just knocked on my door and asked me if by any chance I would be interested in taking in her sister’s toucan. What the hell is going on – and will he turn up on my doorstep if I focus on thinking about Dave Grohl instead?”
Our thoughts seemed to have gone up a notch. And so perhaps this is how my new ability came about – all of those times where I’d been walking down Main Street, feeling discouraged with the standard female middle-aged ego thought – “I have become invisible to my own society. An anomaly. I think I will move to Japan where they venerate older people.” Maybe I had thought those things so much that they had become my toucan. These thoughts had somehow swirled and metamorphosed out into real life.
I needed to be more careful what I thought.
The first time things got plain odd, I thought I was going crazy. I went out to the kitchen to ask Anthony a question, and he completely ignored me. This happens sometimes when he has headphones in but nope, his ears and eyes were free. They just saw right through me. He was cutting up vegetables for the stir fry and by the third time I asked my question – something banal about how much petrol was in the car – and he continued to ignore me, I felt the anger rise up my spine and spew out my mouth. With it came a hard metal ball of fear. So many things were weird lately. What was this? If people ignore you long enough, how long until you disappear?
“Why are you fucking ignoring me?” I ended up screaming. I felt like I could swirl up into a tornado (early menopause is a shitter like that). No response. What had I done to make him ignore me like this? A tantrum rose up on the tail of the anger and the fear. It rushed up like a swirly swirly thing, and I watched as my arm moved forward to punch Anthony on the shoulder.
I would have imagined that if you your hand was suddenly able to go right through someone’s shoulder and out the other side that you would feel the squishiness of the tendons, the muscles, the blood, the bone on your way through. But it was as if nothing was there at all. My quantumly mechanical hand went through Anthony’s shoulder just as if the tiny percent of matter that existed mostly in space inside all of my atoms had entirely disappeared.
This was a conundrum. I stared at Anthony and the rage spluttered out as fast as it had come, now that I realised – he couldn’t see me. Despite my fear, interesting philosophical thoughts and ideas began swirling in through my mind.
The heady waft of roses floated over from the large bunch in a vase on the table. White and lemon, orange and yellow. I’d been thinking of flowers a lot lately. These had come from the yard, from a bush that had sprung up in the yard late this morning. Whatever place I was, my senses had not dissipated.
I would have thought being invisible would be different to being a ghost. Why did my hand move right through Anthony like butter? I could understand why a ghost could move through things because they have sloughed off their body like dead skin. Their body is actually somewhere else – in the ground, in the bellies of worms, in a small box after a big funeral fire. But I was still here. Wasn’t I?
Maybe I was dead. I wasn’t sure I liked this … whatever was happening. I didn’t even know how I had got here, what I should do. There was no big bright light to move towards. No Jesus to meet me. I was at home, but i didn’t know where I was.
And then, somewhere between then and an hour later Anthony came to where I was sitting on the front doorstep looking at my favourite tree and asked me why I was sitting there and if I wanted a cup of tea. Just like that it all stopped and he was baffled when I said I had been there all the time. Life had gotten weird though, so he was quite open to my story.
Anthony appeared to have been thinking about guitars lately – one had appeared in the mail that day, a Epiphone Les Paul standard that he had apparently won in a competition he’d never entered.
A few weeks later after several more episodes of disappearance, I wanted to try and see if I could make it happen at will. “I have become invisible,” I said experimentally in front of the bathroom mirror. And I watched myself dissolve in front of my own dissolving eyes, pixellating out to nothing.
“I have become visible,” I said to my non-reflection to repixellate, but nothing happened. And then 25 minutes later, after wandering round the house aimlessly, checking the mirror every few minutes, there I was back again. Random.
This superpower so far had some really shitty deficits. I mean, what can you do with an invisibility ability when you don’t know when you’ll become visible again?
Another thing: I would have thought being invisible you could wish yourself somewhere, like Panama, or Oregon to visit my friend Erin, and you’d teleport. But no. I tried. I guessed maybe this new power was still in its developing stages and maybe I should try something smaller and easier, like trying to teleport myself up the road to Main Street.
“I am down on Main Street,” I said to my bathroom mirror non-reflection after I unpixellated again, but nothing happened except for a Bob Seeger earworm starting up.
I continued gazing into the mirror, with its tiny specks of toothpaste, at the grotty shower behind the non-reflected me and reminded myself to start thinking a lot more about cleaners, about cleaning robots, about the self-discipline to clean.
I couldn’t even drive down to Main Street because who really wants to see a 1998 C70 Volvo coupe driving itself? And so I had to walk. How crap is that? Luckily, walking is really easy when you’re invisible. There’s no need to worry about whether you’ll over-exert yourself and cause your chronic fatigue syndrome payback. There is no payback. Lovers Walk, which connects my street near Main Street, was a breeze. No sweating, no stopping to pant.
Well, no stopping until I got crossed over a side street. I’d been thinking about how when I got to Main Street I might try, despite my anxiety about reappearing visible at any moment, to whoosh myself through a pile of cafe goers just because I could. To fly through the tables and the bodies of coffee drinkers and dogs outside the Grunge Cafe and see what the dogs thought about it. To consider going into the public toilets to watch people wee (part of me wished to do this but I wasn’t sure I could betray the invisible but implied trust between me and the unknown urinater that they were alone. I would not want to be on display, if our situations were reversed. And anyway, what if I became visible and then I was squashed in a toilet cubicle with some dude? Awkward). I might try to go and steal stuff from the shops (I didn’t think I could fleece other people’s wares without feeling guilty).
Invisibility is complicated when you’re unwilling to break conscientiousness rules.
I never got to Main Street. I could tell by the face of the young guy skateboarding up the street towards me that I was repixellating. I smiled shakily at him and turned back the way I came. At least it was downhill to home, to ponder a little more how to manage this gift.
When I get this sorted out, I’m off to check out Area 51.
This is my response to today’s prompt from The Daily Post: You have a secret superpower: the ability to appear and disappear at will. When and where will you use this new superpower? Tell us a story. It’s been very fun to write, not least because I’m procrastinating writing the essay with the looming timeline.